Dozens of federal grand jury subpoenas have been issued in the past several months as part of the federal criminal investigation involving several people in New Jersey and the powerful Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
An adviser for Menendez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office for Southern New York, declined to comment.
Two people familiar with the matter said one of the entities involved in the investigation is IS EG Halal of Edgewater, New Jersey.
According to the company’s website, “IS EG Halal is the only entity exclusively authorized by the Government of Egypt to certify Halal exports worldwide.”
Lawrence Lustberg, an attorney for the founder and president of IS EG Halal, Wael Hana, said Hana is aware of the U.S. government’s investigation, “but he does not know what it is about.”
In a statement to NBC News, Lustberg said that “for some time now, he has asked the prosecutors to share with him their concerns so that he could respond to them and, in a spirit of cooperation, share with them his explanations with regard to those concerns.”
“Once he has the opportunity to do so, and the truth comes out, he is confident that the Government will agree with him that he has done absolutely nothing wrong,” Lustberg said.
A federal court filing shows that the FBI searched IS EG Halal headquarters and Hana’s residence in November 2019. According to a filing by Lustberg, federal agents seized cellphones, computers, tablets, USB drives, business documents, notepads, a photo album, $5,943 dollars in cash, jewelry and Hana’s passport.
According to filings not just by Lustberg but also by two federal prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office for Southern New York, most of the seized items were returned to Lustberg on Jan. 31, 2020.
Lustberg added in a statement that based on his review of the evidence that was seized, he agrees with his client that Hana has committed no wrongdoing.
The court filings do not specify why federal investigators conducted the search, and NBC News could not confirm whether it was tied to the current investigation involving Menendez.
On Wednesday, Menendez adviser Michael Soliman said, “Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, however he does not know the scope of the investigation.”
Soliman added in a message to NBC News, “As always, should any official inquiries be made, the senator is available to provide any assistance that is requested of him or his office.”
Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was indicted in 2015 on federal corruption charges of illegally accepting favors from a Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen, including flights on a private jet to stay at Melgen’s resort in the Dominican Republic, three nights at a five-star hotel in Paris and more than $700,000 in political contributions for Menendez, as well as the Democratic Party.
The case ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Several jurors told reporters that they believed the government’s evidence was not convincing.
Federal prosecutors decided in 2018 not to retry him.
Menendez is not up for re-election until 2024. He has served in the Senate since 2006 and previously served in the House.